Breaking from the far outside going a flat mile in a field of eight 3-year-olds, heavily favored Collected pressed the early pace and took command leaving the furlong pole en route to a length and a quarter win in Saturday's Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes. Trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by Martin Garcia, the Kentucky-bred colt by City Zip got the distance in 1:38 and picked up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points in the process.
A first-out maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs down Santa Anita's hillside turf course Oct. 12, Collected came off a close second in the Grade III, one mile turf Cecil B. DeMille Stakes at Del Mar Nov. 29 and was thus trying the main track for the first time in the Sham, an important prep to the Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 9.
“I was surprised everyone was gunning early,” said Baffert. “I knew the post was going to be tough on him. He really had to work a little extra hard on the outside like that…but he responded the way you want him to respond. He kept on digging away at it.
“I think this race will do him some good…He's a very fast horse and there's something about him in the mornings that really encouraged me that he's going to be a runner.
Off at 3-2, Collected paid $5.00, $3.60 and $3.00.
“I was full of horse on the backstretch,” said Garcia. “I knew I never wanted to be in behind horses, I just wanted him to flow. Everybody decided to send (from the gate), so I took advantage of that. He was a little wide, but I took him back a little after the first turn and he let me do whatever I wanted. When I asked him, he took off.”
Owned by Peter Fluor's Speedway Stable, LLC, Collected picked up $60,000 for the win, increasing his earnings to $111,200.
Baffert also saddled the runner-up, Let's Meet in Rio, who was ridden by Kent Desormeaux and rallied from far back to for the place while surviving a stewards inquiry into a minor bumping incident at the top of the lane. Off at 5-1, he paid $5.00 and $4.00.
“He was just getting his motor running there at the sixteenth pole,” said Desormeaux. “I think he'll relish more ground, and that's encouraging.”
Ridden by Tyler Baze, Laoban rallied four-wide around the far turn and finished third, one length in front of Found Money. Off at 10-1, Laoban paid $6.40 to show.
Fractions on the race were 23.29, 47.18, 1:11.92 and 1:24.56.
The second, third and fourth place finishers received four, two and one Kentucky Derby qualifying point(s).
Dressed in Hermes, who was the second choice on the original morning line at 7-2, was scratched earlier today due to a fever.
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